Mr. TONKO. Just yesterday, Americans celebrated New Year's Day. They ushered in 2013. As we rang in the new year, the usual message of hope that accompanies the new year--any new year--rang hollow for millions of Americans because of actions taken at the close of that New Year's Day here late last night. People were met with the devastating news that we were not going to take up a measure that would respond to Superstorm Sandy.
And so I rise today to ask the leadership of this House, the people's House, to respond accordingly to the needs of people. I make this request not through some political calculus but rather through the lens of caring and concern and compassion, which ought to be the hallmark of this great institution. We ought not forget that the role that we play here calls upon our moral responsibility to engage our actions and our compassion and empathy for the people we represent or perhaps do not represent directly. Because we, I believe, need to relate to that measurement of compassion to family, friends, neighbors and yes, at times, total strangers.
I make this request sensitized by a situation in my district, the 21st Congressional District at the time, in upstate New York, just about a year-plus before the devastation of Sandy. The torturous treatment of Mother Nature through Irene and Lee on that congressional district, my congressional district, stole lives, wiped away livestock, flooded homes, tore away the hopes and dreams of individuals, and found people abandoned, having lost everything for which they ever worked. And I witnessed how people responded to that tragedy. They picked up and mustered the strength. But they required government to be their partner at that very dark moment in their lives. Having witnessed that pain, having visited communities and having talked with the people, shared tears with the people, I understand that now this situation, in a much more densely populated area of our State, and in neighboring States, requires our assistance, immediate assistance, to respond with compassion.
Mr. Speaker, and leadership of this House, I implore you to respond with compassion and empathy and bring us to the floor to acknowledge and support the funding for Superstorm Sandy.